2 Life (This Week’s Movies)

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Ryan Reynolds: Life (courtesy Alex Bailey, Columbia Pictures)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly.

T2 Trainspotting. “In one scene Mark revisits his celebrated “Choose Life” monologue and revs up a new one—but he comes across like a scold now, taking jabs at cellphones and social media. Suddenly T2 sounds like somebody’s parent.”

Wilson. “No matter how outrageous the movie pretends to be, or how often it means to shock us, there’s always something conventional about Wilson’s arc.”

Life. “Let’s not overpraise Life — it’s straight schlock — but if you have any taste at all for a certain kind of sci-fi horror, this is a breathless example of the form.”

Movie Diary 3/22/2017

Life (Daniel Espinosa, 2017). Unadorned sci-fi/horror taken straight from the Thing/Alien playbook. Hardware and mayhem and very few distinguishing features, but Espinosa (with a big boost from regular contributor and fellow Swede Jon Ekstrand’s music) does keep it moving. Lulu of an ending, too. (full review 3/24)

The Boss Baby (Tom McGrath, 2017). Animated. Alec Baldwin as the voice of the baby, who dresses like a pint-sized businessman. (full review 3/31).

Nevada Smith (Henry Hathaway, 1966). Just because I wanted to watch a Western. Steve McQueen (supposedly playing a teenager) in a revenge scenario, surrounded by an awfully good character-actor cast: Brian Keith, Karl Malden, Martin Landau, Arthur Kennedy, Pat Hingle, and it goes on. (Plus, there’s a scene with Strother Martin being called “Strother.”) The locations are expansive and superbly orchestrated.

Movie Diary 3/21/2017

T2 Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 2017). Another go with the four Edinburgh lads, now 20 years older and not much wiser. Boyle’s hyper approach is once again the source of interest and annoyance here, but give the movie credit for having a half-dozen or so riotous scenes. (full review 3/24)

Wilson (Craig Johnson, 2017). Woody Harrelson as a middle-aged loser whose problem is telling the truth too much. Which sounds a lot like a Daniel Clowes sort of hero, for better or worse. (full review 3/24)

Personal Beauty (This Week’s Movies)

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Kristen Stewart: Personal Shopper (Carole Bethuel/IFC Films)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly.

Beauty and the Beast. “There’s digital fatigue, too. It’s too easy to point out that this movie is almost as much a work of animation as the ’91 picture, but all those CGI backdrops do blur together after a while.”

Personal Shopper. “While I was watching Personal Shopper, I wasn’t always sure about its apparent randomness. Then, in a final sequence set in a completely different location, the entire thing snaps into focus.”

Movie Diary 3/16/2017

The Zookeeper’s Wife (Niki Caro, 2017). World War II in Warsaw, with Jessica Chastain in the title role, Johan Heldenbergh as the zookeeper, and Daniel Brühl as a German zoologist.  Hard to screw up this kind of thing, and Chastain hits some interesting notes. (full review 3/24)

Buck and the Preacher (Sidney Poitier, 1972). Poitier and Harry Belafonte (and Ruby Dee) in a Western with plenty of racial context. It’s aged pretty well, maybe because the times haven’t changed all that much. Poitier is almost too modest about his own presence in his first film as director; Belafonte gets the flamboyant stuff. Also stars Clarence Muse and Cameron Mitchell.

Movie Diary 3/14/2017

Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016). There’s no such thing as ghosts and there is no life after death. So how does a ghost story fare in the hands of Kristen Stewart and Monsieur Assayas? Very well, thanks, because they know ectoplasm doesn’t exist. This feels like a project that started as a doodle (two separate doodles, actually), but it somehow mysteriously has a life, and a somber center. (full review 3/17)

Movie Diary 3/13/2017

This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963). First re-see of this since a somewhat puzzled viewing at age 14 or so. It’s a brute-force film, led by Richard Harris’s physical performance. Seeing it now it looks uncannily like a precursor to Raging Bull, complete with a numbskulled protagonist who allegedly wants more out of life but who goes through the movie with pile-driver repetitiveness. Still, many good moments, including Harris’s song at a nightclub (his footballer instinctively keeps his arms folded throughout the number), and Arthur Lowe’s odd team owner.